November 17

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5 Months in a Blink

It is hard to believe that my PULSE adventure is almost done. It seems like it was only yesterday when I arrived at the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF) ready to get started.  It has been a very interesting 5 months and a time that I will remember for years to come.

PEF is a nonprofit education services provider. It has goals and objectives that are focused to establish and coordinate high-quality educator development and support programs and to build a college-and-career-going culture in Philadelphia public schools. PEF does this through programs that focus on:

  • Professional development
  • Teacher and administrator directed post-secondary success programming
  • Gaining and maintaining access to college for kids
  • Providing Last Dollar scholarships

Early in my time here I met with some high school principals to get a sense of how they valued the services they receive from PEF. The reviews of PEF were glowing.  One principal told me how the College Access Program provided by PEF helped them to achieve a 98.5% graduation rate.  This is in a city where the average rate is 70% and much lower in some of the poorer neighborhoods such as the one this school is in.  It is not hard to tell why though as the passion and the determination to help these kids comes through the work that the folks at PEF do every day.

My work has focused on reviewing many of the business processes at PEF and working with the Leadership Team to see what can be improved. While I have worked on many projects one example is that I was able to bring some of the ADP tools to PEF which helped to focus the various meetings held by the team.  Just simple things like an IPO, action logs and a visual performance board helped to improve meeting management and tracking accountability.  While at GSK we often complain that we need to do more with less, everything is relevant and at PEF it is often a case of do a lot more with a lot less. They are often in a position of wearing many different hats and juggling many different priorities so any small improvements in process can be a win.

While I am a Philadelphia native and have not had a chance to experience some of the cultural highs and lows of far flung international assignments, I have been able to provide some homeless folks with the occasional lunch, get very comfortable with the Phila. train system (which I had never used before) and even see the Chinese Terracotta Warrior collection with a colleague who is on a PULSE assignment at the Franklin Institute. Although I have not had travel plans interrupted due to political instability or had my visa kept from me, I did have to wait an extra ten minutes for a train due to some slippery leaves on the track :).

I will miss my time at PEF but have very much enjoyed the ride.